From Macron to Musk: World rallies behind #ParisAgreement following Trump’s withdrawal

President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change has drawn swift backlash from politicians, business leaders, celebrities and green groups across the world in a renewed effort to step up the fight against global warming.

In the 24-hours since Trump’s controversial decision, the #ParisAgreement has been trending on Twitter, with a host of social media voicing their dissent – ranging from Trump’s presidential predecessor Barack Obama through to Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Zuckerberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Notably, Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has announced that he will be leaving the US President’s advisory council, stepping down as a technology industry advisor for the White House. Musk has been critical of politicians in the past, accusing them of taking the “easy path” to subsidise fossil fuels.

Musk took to Twitter to announce that he was “departing presidential councils”, noting that “climate change is real” and that “leaving Paris is not good for America or the world”. Walt Disney’s chairman Robert Iger has also resigned from the President’s Council over Trump’s Paris Agreement decision.

Business leaders have long sought to appeal to Trump’s businessman persona to persuade the President to remain in the Paris Agreement. Musk signed a joint-letter alongside the chief executives of Unilever, Virgin, Coca-Cola, Walt Disney and others to highlight the economic benefits of remaining in the accord.

But in this instance, Trump’s “art of the deal” is to ignore what all others are pursuing. Overnight, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook, Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai and Facebook’s Zuckerberg all used social media to note their disappoint over the decision.

“Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement is bad for the environment, bad for the economy, and puts our children at risk,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. “Stopping climate change is something we can only do as a global community, and we have to act together before it’s too late.”

Even the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein – who hasn’t tweet since he joined the platform in 2011 – posted a message deriding Trump’s decision.

City safe haven

While businesses stand defiant against the decision, cities and states are seemingly scaling up climate ambitions. An open letter from 82 mayors representing 39 million Americans has promised to “adopt, honour, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement”. Mayors from the likes of New York City, Washington and San Francisco had called on Trump to expand renewable energy sources and green infrastructure to achieve US energy security and create a manufacturing, energy and construction boom in America.

The push from cities has been spearheaded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Since Trump’s announcement, Bloomberg has so far gathered 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses to attempt to get a group submission accepted by the United Nations. If successful, the submission would place the group’s climate actions alongside the national contributions agreed under the Paris Agreement by other nations.

Nations unite

French President Emmanuel Macron has led the responses from other nations. Using the slogan “Make Our Planet Great Again”, Macron reiterated his commitment to finding new ways to limit the impacts of global warming in line with the accord, in a message posted on YouTube.

Here in the UK, a range of ministers including Amber Rudd, Nick Clegg and Greg Clark have reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, while Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas have outright criticised Trump over his decision.

Prime Minister Theresa May has also reportedly told Trump of her “disappointment” over the decision, according to a Downing Street statement. However, May has not signed a joint condemnation from France, Germany, and Italy.

For Trump’s decision to come into effect, the US will have to undergo a complex legal process to officially withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Parties can only pull out three years after the Agreement officially entered force, meaning the earliest withdrawal via this route would be November 2019. However, withdrawing from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) would trigger a departure from the accord, and this would only require one years’ notice.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie